Elcia Grandcourt highlights tourism feats in 2023 and outlook for new year

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Elcia Grandcourt

Picture: A file photo of Elcia Grandcourt speaking at UNWTO Media Workshop in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

In her end-of-year message, Elcia Grandcourt, the Director of the Africa Department of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), highlights the achievements and challenges faced by African tourism throughout 2023. Despite the obstacles presented by the global pandemic, Grandcourt commends the resilience of the African tourism sector and outlines the organization’s vision for sustainable tourism development in Africa.

Grandcourt begins by acknowledging the remarkable recovery of African tourism, with international arrivals reaching 84% of pre-pandemic levels between January and July 2023. “Notably, Africa has excelled, reaching an impressive 92% of pre-pandemic levels. This success can be attributed to the swift revival of nations across North Africa, Small Island Developing States (SIDS), and other regions, with several countries experiencing substantial double-digit growth in tourism during the initial half of the year,” she said.

Throughout 2023, the UNWTO Africa Department, the Director maintains, focused on key thematic areas essential to sustainable tourism development, including advocating for Brand Africa, facilitating travel, fostering resilience and safety, preserving cultural heritage, and promoting investment and skills development. Education has been a pivotal aspect, emphasizing the importance of learning and skill development within the sector.

The organization fostered collaboration with regional economic communities, conducted workshops, and held the 66th Regional Commission Meeting for Africa, culminating in the Mauritius Declaration. The declaration aims to chart a new path for Africa’s tourism through global partnerships and investment. Investment guidelines for Mozambique, Morocco, and Zambia were also established to stimulate sustainable tourism growth in these countries.

A virtual workshop on “Safety and Security in Tourism in Africa” was organized in partnership with UEMOA, gathering over 50 participants from various African nations. Additionally, the first Communications, Media, and Tourism Training Workshop in Africa, held in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, provided an opportunity for member states to enhance their communication strategies to promote tourism as a driver for development.

Grandcourt highlights Africa’s active involvement and significant contributions to key leadership roles during the 25th UNWTO General Assembly in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Grandcourt explained, “The member states active participation in various committees solidified Africa’s influence across key domains. These appointments reflect not only the collective strength of African nations, but also our unwavering dedication to influencing positive change on the global stage.”

In 2024, Zambia will host the 2nd Regional UNWTO Conference, focusing on advocating Brand Africa, tourism education, and investment opportunities to address challenges hindering the sector’s growth. The Director reiterated that the UNWTO Africa Department’s focus will remain centered on core priorities, supporting member states, fostering collaborations, and guiding the sector towards a prosperous future with shared benefits.

In conclusion, Grandcourt extends warm wishes for a joyous New Year filled with peace, prosperity, and remarkable success. She emphasizes the shared commitment to advancing the African tourism narrative and calls for collective solutions to achieve common objectives and strengthen sustainable tourism development on the continent.

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